Planet View: N13°21.100′ E103°51.179′
Street View: N13°21.100′ E103°51.179′
Siem Reap is the gateway town to the famous temples of Angkor and the thousand year old Angkor Wat. We flew into Siem Reap from Vientiane, stopping off in Savannakhet for our small turbo-prop plane to refuel. Siem Reap was a bustling hive of activity, although the third world living conditions of some of the locals was a striking contrast to the palatial hotels constructed for the tens of thousands of tourists visiting the area each year. The Cambodians we encountered in Siem Reap were fantastic people, very friendly and accommodating, although we quickly learned that they will fleece tourists of their dollars with a smile at any chance they can get.
We hired a tuk-tuk driver for a day to tour us around the ancient ruins of Cambodia’s former royal seat of power, the temples of Angkor. Our driver, Mr Thom, was probably the most friendly and soft-spoken person we’ve met on our travels, he took us to Angkor Wat and Phnom Bakheng one evening to watch the sun set and then spent the next day taking us to the main temples of Angkor (there’s a separate post here with all the photos of the Angkor ruins). The tuk-tuks in Cambodia are a little different than those in Laos: in Laos most of the tuk-tuks are highly modified mini-trucks or motorbikes whilst in Cambodia they’re scooters with a small (but very comfortable) carriage attached to the rear. We felt a little like royalty driving around in our little chariot!
The center of Siem Reap was a fun place to spend the afternoons and evenings, Street Eight (AKA Pub Street) is lined with drinking holes and a mind-boggling number of restaurants, offering everything from local Khmer curries to high-end French cuisine. The $USD0.50 beers offered by most of the pubs were certainly a nice release from the humidity. We spent a few hours one day participating in a cooking class at one of the Khmer restaurants, three Cambodian chefs taught us how to make Khmer curry, spring rolls, mango salad, Cambodian chicken soup and some tasty desserts. After attempting to eat everything we’d cooked we had to go back to our hotel to have a lie down, definite food coma! Another Southeast Asian street side offering we’d seen elsewhere but didn’t try until today is fresh pressed sugar cane syrup. Vendors have carts (one’s pictured below) modified to include a motorized press through which they feed sugar cane and then mix the juice with fresh orange or lemon juice to create quite a refreshing (albeit super sweet) drink. Southeast Asia is a hive of massage parlors, but a first for us in Siem Reap was the fish massage: pools full of hundreds of a certain breed of small fish that eat dead human skin feast on the limbs and feet of human customers, in doing so the sensation is something akin to a massage. Lisa and I put our hands in one of the pools, it was quite invigorating, but we weren’t game to sit there for a full 15 minutes of treatment on our feet!
This entry was posted on Sunday, September 27th, 2009 at 7:31 PM and is filed under Cambodia. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.